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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

‘In Your Dreams’ Blue Heron #4 by Kristan Higgins

 Received from the Publisher 
From the BLURB:

Emmaline Neal needs a date. Just a date—someone to help her get through her ex-fiancé's wedding without losing her mind. But pickings are slim in Manningsport, New York, population 715. In fact, there's really only one option: local heartthrob Jack Holland. Everyone loves Jack, and he won't get the wrong idea…. After all, Jack Holland would never actually be interested in a woman like Em. Especially not with his beautiful ex-wife creeping around, angling to reunite ever since he rescued a group of teens and became a local hero. 

But when the wedding festivities take an unexpectedly passionate turn, Em figures it was just one crazy night. Jack is too gorgeous, too popular, to ever end up with her. So why is she the one he can talk to about his deep, dark feelings? If Em is going to get her dream man, she'll have to start by believing in him…

What do you do when you’re invited to the wedding of your previously overweight (now ab-tastic) ex-fiancée and the fitness fanatic trainer he left you for? Well, according to the majority of townsfolk from Manningsport, New York you invite Jack Holland along as your perfect date. Especially if you’re Emmaline Neal – police officer, and German shepherd owner who has been on two dates in three years since Kevin broke her heart and is not above referring to the station’s criminal database searching for a potential petty criminal to act as her wedding date. Because even though Jack Holland is delicious, and divorced (after a very, very messy breakup that included his Southern Belle wife cheating on him) even if he is the local hero after rescuing a car of teenage boys that ploughed into a lake … the fact is, Emmaline doesn’t want Jack Holland’s pity date. 

Jack, meanwhile, would love nothing more than to get out of town for a destination wedding in Malibu as a stand-in, maybe pretend boyfriend. It’s just the escape Jack is looking for, since rescuing that car of drunken teenage boys landed him hero status – something he’s especially uncomfortable with, since one of those boys is slowly dying and still in a coma. Jack’s been having nightmares and panic attacks since the rescue, and taking Emmaline Neal to the wedding of her ex sounds like a great distraction – especially when Jack’s ex-wife, Hadley, gets wind of his hero status (thanks to an interview with Anderson Cooper) and returns to Manningsport in the hopes of rekindling their trainwreck of a marriage. 

What neither Jack nor Emmaline counts on is a surprising but electrifying attraction – especially when it comes at the worst of times. Jack is fighting PTSD, an ex-wife who could double as Blanche DuBois and Em does not want to get her heart broken by another man who is tempted by a skinny, beautiful woman who claims to know what’s best for him.

‘In Your Dreams’ is the fourth book in Kristan Higgins’ addictive contemporary 'Blue Heron' romance series set in Manningsport, and mostly centred around the Holland family who run the Blue Heron winery. 

I really loved this instalment in Higgins’ series. I was a wee bit worried about Jack as our romantic lead, only because much had been made of his good looks and charm in previous books and the last thing I wanted was to read a Mary Sue dude. But it’s quickly established that Jack in this book is suffering emotionally after an impromptu rescue gone wrong, and he’s been wounded in the past by a sour marriage that ended after infidelity. I was surprised but relieved to discover Jack is a good guy who usually finishes last, looks and charm aside, he knows what it’s like when life screws you over. And, actually, Emmaline has the same reaction to Jack that many readers will – thinking he has the perfect life from the outside, but discovering his difficulties and insecurities as they get to know each other… 

And speaking of Emmaline – I loved her. She’s closely aligned to a previous Higgins heroine (and one of my favourites!) Chastity O'Neill from ‘Just One of the Guys’ – a tomboy who didn’t want to change who she was, to attract the guy of her dreams. Emmaline is similar in the tomboy aspect – preferring beer to wine, her police uniform to dresses, she plays hockey and hates doing anything to her hair. I really liked when Hadley came on the scene and Emmaline found both of them fighting for Jack’s affections. Hadley is petite and blonde, a Southern Belle and thoroughly annoying – but next to her Emmaline feels like a gorilla, and wonders how Jack can be interested in her when Hadley is his ex-wife; 

“What if Hadley wasn’t in town?” he asked when she failed to answer. “And what if those kids didn’t … crash? Would you go out with me then?” 
“Well, you were never interested before, so I’d have to say no.” 
“Maybe I could say you were the one who was never interested, whereas I always thought of you as the hot hockey chick.” 
Another snort. Must stop doing that. “You never asked me out.” 
“You never gave me the time of day.” 
“If you were pining for me, you hid it well.” 
He gave her a tolerant look. “I wasn’t pining for you, Emmaline. I did think you were the hot hockey chick. We all do.” 
“Which explains why I’ve had two dates in three years.” 
“Maybe your sweet and gentle personality has something to do with that.” 

Much is made in the beginning of Emmaline’s past relationship with Kevin, her childhood sweetheart turned fiancée who was morbidly obese but left her for his trainer once he started losing weight. I really liked this storyline, if only because it allowed plenty of leeway for Higgins humour, especially around fitness fanatics. And a fitness fanatic wedding is especially hilarious; 


The special memories sharing was more of the same. The marathon when Kevin had to crawl across the finish line just after he lost control of his bowels. The difficult time when Naomi had ruptured her Achilles tendon and could only run seven miles a day. The hilarious time when they were doing an Ironman race and Naomi’s bike had crashed, her shoulder dislocated, and God bless her! She’d just rammed it back into place on a convenient tree, got back on the bike and caught up to Kevin, who of course hadn’t stopped because it was “emotionally important” for him to give this race his all, and of course Naomi understood and supported this.  
“I don’t know,” Em murmured. “I think I’d want someone to stop and call an ambulance for me.” 
“I would do that,” Jack said. “And I’d tell the paramedics to give you extra painkillers.” 

But the Kevin storyline dropped right off once Jack and Emmaline kindled their romance, and if anything I’d have liked slightly more closure to this aspect of Emmaline’s past.

Overall I loved this instalment in Kristan Higgins’ ‘Blue Heron’ series. A non-girly heroine who needs a confidence boost, a seemingly perfect hero whose flaws and insecurities are refreshing and the usual laughs and puppy-awwws fans have come to love from Higgins’ books. This one’s a winner!



4/5





4 comments:

  1. "Electrifying attraction," eh? I like the sound of that! I confess to a soft spot for these "I'm going to show my old flame what he's been missing" type stories, too. Thank goodness we have fiction where we can work out all these petty feelings, hah.

    I've never read this author, but if you're a fan, I must try it! Do I need to read them in order, or is it okay to start with the satisfyingly "Living well is the best revenge" type one?

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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    1. Ohhhhhh yes. Living vicariously through romance reads - it's totally a thing :)

      I loved the first book in this series too (which is a "show my ex-fiancee that I'm totally fine with his being gay and calling off the wedding" story). You can read out of order, just know that the hero in this book is linked to the others because he's part of the central family.

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  2. I love this series and just about everything Ms. Higgans has written. I can't wait for this one. Did you ever read "Just One of the Guys?"

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    1. Oh my gosh, I LOVED 'Just One of the Guys'! Chastity O'Neill is one of my favourite Higgin's characters!

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